In recent years, much of the emphasis on safety in cars has been focused on the driver and front seat passenger. This has led automakers to come up with improvements like airbags, sturdier seat belts, and crumple zones to help protect front seat occupants in vehicles. But perhaps one drawback to all of this “front seat’ attention is that consumers may tend to forget about the safety of people riding in the back seat.
A fatal crash earlier this month illustrates the dangers that back seat passengers can be exposed to. On Saturday, July 16 a little after 9pm, a 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix was traveling east on Route 72 in unincorporated Hampshire Township in Kane County. The car was about a half mile away from Walker Road when it attempted to pass a tractor-trailer on the two-lane stretch of road. But the car struck a 2010 Ford Edge coming the other direction, and a 20-year old Rockford man riding in the back seat of the Grand Prix was killed.
Neither driver nor any other passengers were injured in the crash, which is a testament to the safety features of the two vehicles. But the accident was still severe enough to fatally injure the back seat passenger. The Grand Prix’s driver (who is also a 20-year old male from Rockford) was cited by police for improper lane usage, improper passing, and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Authorities do not believe alcohol or drugs were factors in the collision.
Because the driver is responsible for the safety of his passengers in the car, the family members of the victim appear to have solid grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Since the victim was only 20 years old, surviving family members may be awarded monetary damages that are equal to the estimated salary that the man would have earned in the future had the accident not occurred. In addition, the driver may also be ordered to reimburse the family for burial and hospital expenses, and also possibly pay out damages related to the family’s pain and suffering.